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Nike News from CLR

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Labor Alerts/Labor News
a service of Campaign for Labor Rights

	Now, more than ever, grassroots action is needed.

In the more than 8 months that Nike has participated in the President's Task
Force, it has used its involvement in the body as evidence that the company
is concerned and progressive.  Meanwhile, away from the glare of publicity,
Nike was one of the most intransigent industry members of the Task Force,
consistently arguing for adoption of standards which would make a "no sweat"
label meaningless -- the very standards outlined above.  Nike clearly
expects to be rewarded with that label for its participation in the Task
Force. Consider Nike's recent behavior:

[text from a column by Bob Herbert in the New York Times on March 28, 1997]

On March 8, which happened to be International Women's Day, 56 women
employed at a factory making Nike shoes in Dong Nai, Vietnam, were punished
because they hadn't worn regulation shoes to work.   Factory officials
ordered the women outside and made them run around the factory in the hot
sun. The women ran and ran and ran. One fainted, and then another. Still
they ran. They would be taught a lesson. They had worn the wrong shoes to
work. More women fainted. The ordeal didn't end until a dozen workers had

Thuyen Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American businessman who has been studying
conditions at factories that make Nike shoes in Vietnam, wrote in a report
released yesterday: "Vietnamese all over the country were outraged that on
International Women's Day, when most companies in Vietnam give women workers
flowers and other gifts, 12 Vietnamese women were so abused they
had to spend the day in the emergency room."


An article published in the Grand Rapids Press on December 15, 1996 revealed
that some Nike clothing is being produced in Haiti.  Nike's contract is with
the H.H. Cutler Co. -- one of the same companies which is the subject of the
National Labor Committee's Disney campaign.

The GR Press story, written by Mary Ann Sabo, details what has happened
since Cutler moved its operations from Michigan to Haiti in recent years.
The move created misery for the Michigan workers who lost their jobs.  The
Haitian workers who now have those jobs also are suffering.  Sabo quotes one
worker who, after working at Cutler's Haitian operation for five years,
makes only 30 cents an hour:

"...it's not enough to get by on.  It's not enough to eat or send my
children to school.  Everything I'm trying to do doesn't seem to bring me
further in my life."


On April 4, 1997 the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald reported the findings
of a researcher who recently concluded an 8-month study of Nike operations
in an outlying part of Indonesia.  The young women making shoes for Nike
work an average of 11.5 hours per day and are fired immediately if they take
sick leave. One young woman who collapsed from exhaustion died when factory
managers failed to provide her any medical attention.


According to an Associated Press story dated February 25, Nike has hired
former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young as part of an effort to counter
criticism that working conditions at some of the company's Asian factories
are inhumane.  Young and his GoodWorks International group are to review a
new code of conduct for the shoe and apparel company's overseas factories.

Max White, coordinator for the Portland-based Justice Do It Nike
organization, said he hopes Young is able to make an independent review and
does not simply conclude what Nike wants him to conclude or see what Nike
wants him to see.  White added that the core issue is not the content of
Nike's code of conduct but its enforcement, which so far has been close to nil.

The Nike campaign is run with the hope and faith that Nike eventually will
decide that its only viable option is to clean up its labor practices.  That
said, words of caution are in order.  Mr. Young has established a monitoring
business which has Nike as its first large corporate customer.  If Mr. Young
is willing to tell the truth about how Nike's labor practices, what is the
likelihood that he will get contracts with any other companies?  Surely, Mr.
Young has asked himself that very question.

Andrew Young has great credibility as a U.S. civil rights leader.  Still, it
seems inappropriate for him to assess the plight of Nike's overseas workers
when in Indonesia, for example, there are nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) who have asked to be allowed to monitor Nike's operations in their
own country; yet Nike refuses their offer.  What would Mr. Young think if
the tables were turned and if those Indonesian NGOs presumed to speak on
behalf of African Americans?

Still, it is possible that Andrew Young might be an instrument of change for
Nike.  More power to him if he can.  Meanwhile -- until we see real evidence
that Nike intends to act responsibly toward its workers -- we have a
responsibility to continue this campaign.


LEAFLEATING ACTIONS continue at stores selling Nike products in the U.S. and
Canada. Campaign for Labor Rights produces a constantly-revised Nike action
packet, available by email or in hard copy ($3 or $5 donation requested for
hard copy version).  Contact Campaign for Labor Rights at clr@xxxxxxxxxxx or
(541) 344-5410.  

INTERNATIONAL MOBILIZATION:  Campaign for Labor Rights and Press for Change
are coordinating with groups around the world for an international
mobilization on October 18.  Local activists are urged to plan events in
their communities.

NIKE TOUR, May 2-23:  Campaign for Labor Rights and Press for Change are
organizing a speaking tour in Canada (Vancouver, Alberta and Ontario) and
the U.S. (Seattle and Portland) with an Indonesian woman fired by a Nike
subcontractor when she organized for her rights.  Cicih Sukaesih will meet
with local activists at each stop.  The Canadian portion of the tour is
being generously funded by the Canadian Auto Workers Social Justice Fund and
by the Alberta Federation of Labor.

DELEGATION TO INDONESIA, May 20-31:  Global Exchange is organizing its
second delegation to Indonesia, where participants will learn about the
context of repression in which Nike and other transnational companies
operate.  From the Global Exchange newsletter: "Indonesia has achieved high
economic growth rates, yet human rights abuses and suppression of democratic
forces continue under the dictatorship of General Suharto.  This delegation
will observe the National Parliamentary Elections with local NGOs, while
meeting with activists, students and government officials.  Following up on
our Nike and anti-sweatshop campaigns, we will also explore the role of
multinational corporations.  Cost is $2150 from San Francisco/Los Angeles.
Late fee after April 10."  Call 800-497-1994 for more information.